With only a few days to go and the news today that Croke Park is of course a “sell out” for this Sunday, the anticipation is finally beginning to build.
And you can feel it around the city, see it on social media, sense it people’s expressions.
Can Dublin continue their dominance over their rivals Kerry on Sunday and march toward a potential back to back All Ireland opportunity?
Punditry is punditry, and like a good book or film review, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But almost a landslide of opinion has Jim Gavin’s elite boarding the bus under the Hogan Stand on Sunday evening with their tails up, ready to face Mayo, before the grass of Head Quarters has even been encrouched.
The Dublin boss held a media scrum recently to discuss the upcoming game, and as we’ve come to expect from this gentleman of Gaelic Football, Jim in his own inimitable way paid the upmost respect to Dublin’s Semi Final opponents, not siding with opinion.
While Dublin were worthy winners over the Kingdom on a very wet and inclement day last September, a lot were of the opinion that had the weather been better, the Dubs would have romped to victory instead of edging it.
But Gavin believes the unknown is to be headed.
“What Kerry can bring, because they have such talented and experienced players, you can’t plan for every eventuality.” Gavin told GAA.ie
“They are well able to push up high, they are well able to get their forward players behind the ball and set up a defensive line across the middle.”
The Dublin boss is known for not deviating from his and his panel’s plan, concentrating on their own game and not concerning themselves with their opponents. It has become their ethos and the very reason this Dublin team has bounced back from All Ireland Semi Final defeat in 2014 and have gone unbeaten since. Consistency and adaptability are traits that Dublin’s faithful fans have become accustom to and now is not the time for any changes.
‘We’ve based most of our preparation on our game-plan, what way we want to play.” he re-iterated.
“That normally sees us get a performance. If we get a performance we’ll be there or thereabouts at the end of the game.”
“They know and we know there’s literally a bounce of the ball between us, some of the score-lines would reflect otherwise but that’s the harsh reality of it.”
While the boys in blue enjoyed a more than comprehensive win over Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s side in this year’s Allianz League Final, Gavin is not of the illusion that Kerry have stood still, reminding everyone the depth of this panel.
“Darren O’Sullivan is injury-free and looks very fluid in the game itself. James O’Donoghue is back, Colm Cooper will probably be back as well and Paul Geaney is back to great form. Donnchadh Walsh is back to his best and I could go on and on about the quality of this Kerry side so it’s going to be a really tough game and a big challenge for the Dublin football team.”
“When you look at the strength in depth that they have in the squad now, they have grown this year.”
“We understand the challenge that it is and this one will go down to the wire.”